How to maintain secure access and data privacy

Cybersecurity is a priority concern for most people accessing the internet. Unfortunately, students aren’t thinking about cyberattacks when they access sites for curriculum, research, and entertainment from their 1:1 devices–devices that are now so prevalent since the pandemic.

Schools’ exposure to cyberattacks has also greatly increased due to expanded remote and hyperflex learning.

Join eSchool News and a panel of experts to learn the latest strategies and tools schools are using to help keep student data safe and ensure students’ digital access is secure.…Read More

When it comes to edtech, it’s not about the tools, but how you use them

In this week’s Getting There: Innovations in Education, Editor at Large Kevin Hogan explores how to get the most impact out of the edtech tools in your district.

Also in this podcast:

  • New cyber security standards attempt to help secure district networks through awareness.
  • Dr. Matthew X. Joseph, Executive Director of Learning, Providence Public Schools on the power of human networks.
  • How video creation tools can improve parental relations.
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Mastercard and Discovery Education Partner to Empower Girls with STEM Learning Through the Signature Girls4Tech™ Program

Silver Spring, Md. (Thursday, April 22, 2021) — With the goal of providing five million girls with an engaging STEM education by 2025, Mastercard has partnered with Discovery Education to launch the latest phase of the award-winning Girls4Tech initiative. Girls4Tech is Mastercard’s signature science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program geared towards giving girls in middle and high school access to STEM resources and career exploration tools with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber security. Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. Together, the partnership aims to reach more than 2 million girls.

In partnership with Discovery Education, Girls4Tech now offers a robust array of no-cost, standards-aligned, and on-demand digital resources that illustrate how technology can be used to solve the problems young people care about. Included in these resources are career profiles featuring Mastercard’s dynamic and diverse group of female cybersecurity professionals who fight cyber criminals and help keep sensitive information safe on a global scale. The career profiles include activities and educator guides that inspire girls to dream big. In addition, this latest phase of partnership features digital lesson bundles focusing on the foundations and evolution of technology and binary code.  

“The current and future workforce needs employees with hot skills like cyber and AI, so the more we can do to introduce these subjects in the early years, the better off we’ll all be,” said Susan Warner, vice president, talent management and community engagement, and founder of Girls4Tech. “Our partnership with Discovery Education will help us bring these hot jobs to life.”…Read More

Cyber security course for teachers includes lessons on hacking

Eric Bryant is glad his school recently bought laptops for all its students to use in class and at home.

He just wants to make sure those students are protected.

“Kids are going to learn computers one way or another,” said Bryant, a 10th-grade history teacher at Gadsden City High School. “Hopefully we can teach them the right way to use them.”…Read More

How hackers held a district hostage for almost $10,000

Think ransoms are only paid out to rescue victims of kidnappings? Think again.

Imagine walking into your office one morning and finding some (or all) of your district’s computer files “padlocked” and inaccessible. In the corner, a masked man is standing with his hand out, demanding an $8,000-$10,000 ransom payment. When he gets the money, he’ll hand over the key to the padlock. If you choose not to pay, then you’ll spend the next few months trying to pick the lock while teachers, students, and administrators are forced to work without their modern technology.

This is essentially what happened to Horry County Schools (HCS) of Conway, S.C., earlier this year. Using a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid (aka, “ransomware”), on February 8 hackers used high-level encryption to lock up the district’s data. The criminals then held that data for ransom and demanded the district pay nearly $10,000 via Bitcoin for the encryption key.

Charles Hucks, executive director of technology, says the district had experienced a few breaches during the months leading up to the attack, but nothing of this magnitude. “A few devices of teachers were hit and some of their local files were encrypted,” says Hucks. “In some cases network-based files on individual directories were also encrypted, but the impact of those attacks was very limited. They were isolated incidents.”…Read More

Free tools help IT leaders check school network security

Free tools can help district leaders identify cyber security risks and procedures.

A free resource aims to help K-12 school district leaders make sure they are adequately prepared to address threats to critical district technology systems and infrastructure—and it’s just in time for October’s Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The updated resources from the Consortium for School Networking’s Cyber Security for the Digital District Leadership Initiative include the Self-Assessment Checklist, the Cyber Security Planning Protocol, and the Cyber Security Rubric and Security Planning Template. The rubric and planning template are available only to CoSN members.…Read More

5 holiday tech scams to avoid

The holiday shopping season is a great time to get tech products at discounted prices, but it also creates a golden opportunity for the web’s scam artists. The FBI, McAfee, the Better Business Bureau and F-Secure are all warning about cybercriminals who will try to take you for a ride this holiday season, reports PCWorld. Here are their most pertinent warnings and tips for staying safe:

The Infamous Free iPad

Bogus free iPad offers started popping up immediately after Apple’s tablet went on sale, and they’ve since been banned from Facebook. Still, you might see similar offers around the Web, McAfee says, prompting you to buy other products as a condition of getting the free iPad. By now, you should realize it’s too good to be true.…Read More

Cyberthieves still rely on human foot soldiers

Sitting at a computer somewhere overseas in January 2009, computer hackers went phishing. Within minutes of casting their electronic bait they caught what they were looking for: A small Michigan company where an employee unwittingly clicked on an official-looking eMail that secretly gave cyberthieves the keys to the firm’s bank account, reports the Associated Press. Before company executives knew what was happening, Experi-Metal Inc., a suburban Detroit manufacturing company, was broke. Its $560,000 bank balance had been electronically scattered into bank accounts in Russia, Estonia, Scotland, Finland and around the U.S. In August, the Catholic Diocese in Des Moines, Iowa, lost about $680,000 over two days. Officials there aren’t sure how hackers got into their accounts, but “they took all they could” before the bank noticed what was going on, according to Jason Kurth, diocese vice chancellor. The diocese and the Detroit company were among dozens of individuals, businesses and municipalities around the country victimized by one of the largest cybertheft rings the FBI has uncovered…

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School webcam spying prompts call for new laws

Privacy laws haven't kept up with changes in technology, says Sen. Arlen Specter.
Privacy laws haven't kept up with changes in technology, says Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., is pushing for new federal laws on electronic privacy as a school district in his home state struggles with a lawsuit over attempts to locate missing laptops by turning on webcams remotely—something that could have enabled it to record students at home.

Specter said at a field hearing of a Senate subcommittee March 29 that he believes existing wiretap and video-voyeurism statutes do not adequately address concerns in an era marked by the widespread use of cell-phone, laptop, and surveillance cameras.…Read More